Amul Vs. all of India’s ‘butter cookies’

PS: This is a marketing/communications perspective of the launch. Here’s the consumer/user perspective about the product.

Update – August 16, 2019:
And finally, the empire strikes back! The big daddy of Indian biscuit empire fires the long-overdue salvo against Amul’s skirmish almost after a month! A sentence from my original post below was, “Is it healthy to have the Amul-level of 25% butter in cookies? Even that’s not being asked.” – and Britannia piles on just that line, rightly so.

Not just that, they also smartly frame that 25% butter in a not-so-charitable angle – move the view from butter, to the health risk associated popularly with butter – cholesterol! So, ‘about 7 times cholesterol’. This is the opposite of Amul’s framing – look at butter in a positive frame, associating it with richness in taste and value for money.

And a note for the fine print, which alludes directly to butter brands, not butter cookies brands: “Reference: Derived value basis nutritional panels of leading butter brands which declare cholesterol content of 180mg per 100gms“. Now, which are the leading butter brands in India? Amul is, of course, right on top. The next? Most probably Britannia itself! And what does Britannia butter’s cholesterol reading say, for 100gms butter? Take a look 🙂

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ORIGINAL POST – July 22, 2019

I stumbled on an ad by Amul, for their new range of biscuits/cookies, in the Ahmedabad edition of The Times of India, yesterday.

This is really, really interesting because Amul is using the same template it earlier used against ‘frozen desserts’ from HUL’s Kwality Wall’s.

Back then, Amul’s allegation, in the garb of advertisement, was that they have real milk in their ice creams and other ice creams are nothing but frozen dessert sans milk. Then, the milk-based ice cream vs. frozen dessert battleground skewed the ice cream market and forced customers to think over something they hadn’t considered till then. HUL, the largest ice cream brand (that happens to make frozen desserts, technically) felt the heat (pun unintended) went to court and Amul was eventually allowed to run their ad but without disparaging ‘frozen dessert’.

This time, the battle is Amul vs. Britannia Good Day (so obvious from the cookies’ design!) and all other ‘butter’ cookies. Amul is sowing the seeds of doubt in customers mind over the quantity of butter in ‘butter’ cookies. And alleges that all other brands of butter cookies have a paltry amount of butter and more of vegetable oil!

Like last time, Amul has solid backing and credibility to talk about butter (like milk, earlier – since it produces both in enormous quantities). At that point, HUL did not have any claim about fresh milk because it wasn’t in that business. But in this case, at least Britannia (the primary target of Amul) actually has a butter brand.

During the ice cream wars, as a result of Amul’s salvo, HUL was forced to buy Adityaa Milk to have a better say about milk and Kwality Wall’s/HUL).

The most powerful part of the Amul Butter Cookies pack is the presence of the Amul-Girl in the front! The imagery is instantly recognizable as ‘the butter’ and directly connotes ‘that famous’ butter being present in the biscuit!

Not just that.

Besides the print ad, what Amul did online is pure genius!

Amul put the same print ad online and did not stop with that. They went ahead and made a contest out of it, asking people to share photos of the % of butter in other brands’ butter cookies!!

On Twitter, Instagram and Facebook:

Result? People started sharing photos of every conceivable brand of ‘butter’ cookies across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

The list of brands is long, topped by Britannia Good Day, followed by Priya Gold, Unibic, Parle 2020, Britannia Tiger, ITC Sunfeast Mom’s Magic, Bisk Farm, Anmol and even the famous Pune Kayani Bakery Shrewsbury Butter cookies, among others. And in every mention, people made it a point to see something they have never done till now – look up the ingredients to see the butter %!

This is an unprecedented line of attack on every other ‘butter’ biscuit and is incredibly clever to rope in normal customers to join Amul in the salvo! This is also framing at its best – what was not even a matter of concern to most people has suddenly become an ‘I can’t unsee this now’ pitch!

Whether it is important to have that much butter in cookies or not is not being asked.

Is it healthy to have the Amul-level of 25% butter in cookies? Even that’s not being asked.

All that matters, as an outcome of this brilliant campaign, both in print and online, is Amul has changed consumers’ perception of what to expect in butter cookies! What is being seen and noticed is that other butter biscuits have ‘poor quantity of butter’ and Amul butter cookies have 25% butter. This is truly a testimony to the amount of trust we Indians have towards Amul, the brand.

Amul has also added the point that other biscuits are filled with vegetable fat and not enough ‘butter’ to be called ‘butter cookies’, just like the earlier attack on frozen desserts having more vegetable fat than pure milk.

This is unlike any other digital marketing tactic I have seen so far in a very long time and is mindbogglingly brilliant! The print ad is expensive and is a paid tactic, but online… it is completely organic and is a word-of-mouth magnet.

I most definitely expect Britannia and ITC to go into a massive internal huddle to find a way to deal with this body-blow from Amul. I’m fairly sure they’d knock on the doors of the Courts soon to somehow restrict Amul from taking this campaign national (at least on print media since digital is already national/international, with no boundaries).

Whether there is a fall in ‘butter’ biscuit sales of all other brands depends on how much louder and wider Amul takes this campaign. Also, Amul’s new range isn’t that widely available, so even if people want to find the so-called better alternative, or ‘butter alternative’, they still may not find it in a store near them (many people have commented below all their posts about availability).

The biscuits segment in India suddenly got super, super interesting!

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